Picture
Click on the poster for the official Trailer.
"If a fire causes a stampede to the unmarked exits, it'll have been well worth it for those who survive."

Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender)
Picture
Can a great man be a good man? The quote above - just one of a litany of zingers from master wordsmith Aaron Sorkin - should give you a clear indication of the kind of guy Steve Jobs is purported to be. And there is an abundance of evidence to support the notion that Jobs was a deeply cold and unsympathetic man in real life. Yet thanks to Sorkin, director Danny Boyle and a performance from a note-perfect ensemble cast, further shades of depth and colour to this most complex of individuals are brushed in with skill and precision - leaving the audience with an early frontrunner for the awards season fast approaching.

Picture
Structured as a three-act play, Steve Jobs finds the eponymous co-founder of Apple at three key product launches in his history - the Macintosh in 1984, the doomed NeXT cube in '88 and the game-changing iMac of 1998. Boyle's master of his craft manages to elevate what could have been little more than a stagey scenario of people talking in and around, well, stages, into a slick and emotion-fueled gaze into human relationships - or the lack of them. Fused with Sorkin's dialogue (surely a genre all of its own), Boyle's style is dynamic but unoppressive, allowing both the cast and the emotions to soar. It would also be very difficult to pick a more worthwhile cast than the likes of Kate Winslett, Seth Rogan, Michael Stuhlbarg and Jeff Daniels - all operating at the peak of their abilities. But the main acting plaudits must surely land at the feet of Michael Fassbender - easily one of the most exciting actors to grace the silver screen. A perfect example of the Oliver Stone School of Casting (Nixon showed us you don't need to be a Doppelganger, just convey the character correctly), Fassbender never misses a step in penetrating just deep enough into Jobs' soul without losing the cold, calculating persona that seemed to imprint on all around him. If there were any minor flaws, at a push there is a slight "reverting-to-form" from Sorkin with the father-daughter dynamic - clearly designed to help the audience connect to the legend. It was a trick that was used before in Sorkin's The Social Network - another distant and manipulative tech legend biopic. But it would be a gross injustice to dwell on this detail, as Steve Jobs is a masterly crafted work that showcases the profound abilities of everyone involved.

Whether Jobs himself would agree, well... That's another argument.

 
 
Picture
Click on the poster for the official trailer
"It's all a matter of perspective..."

James Bond (Daniel Craig)
Picture
Finally... All the pieces are back in place. Thanks to the end of a looooooooong period of legal wrangles and litigations, EON Productions have the rights back for perhaps James Bond's most nefarious group of nemeses. Sam Mendes' second stint in the Bond director hotseat brings Bond round back to the formula that was established in the Connery era, expanded into self-parody during the time of Moore, largely forgotten by the days of Dalton and struggling to find a footing during the Brosnan revival. Thanks to a slick re-interpretation of the Britsh spy's legacy and a drip-drip approach when filtering in the famous ingredients, Craig's Bond has now come full circle into the canon. And while this adherence to the old formula has taken the edge of Craig's unpredictability in the role, this is still a thrilling and enjoyable trip to the flix.

Picture
The film picks up after Skyfall with Bond on a personal vendetta during the Day of the Dead festivities in Mexico City. The opening action set piece sets the tone well, with Bond fighting in and around an out-of-control helicopter (reminding one of the last time Bond was seen grappling with a SPECTRE head honcho in For Your Eyes Only) over the heads of thousands of spectators. Further digging into his past reveals a connection that will lead him to the organization that (we are told to keep continuity) has been behind all the crimes 007 has faced to this point. Mendes and the scriptwriters are clear in their intent in bringing in the moments that Bond fans have enjoyed ever since Sean Connery uttered the immortal introduction at the baccarat table in Dr. No. The film makers spin these familiar moments into something fresh and dynamic - the classic SPECTRE meeting (and the fact that just turning up can mean a painful death) is perhaps the most successful scene in the movie. The villainous torture scene, the classic fight with a henchman (Dave Bautista's Mr. Hynx, sadly used sporadically), gadget-laden car chase - all these moments are whipped into the mix to create the most old-fashioned film thus far in the Craig era. The only side effect to this is that the sense of surprise and tension is weakened by the use of the familiar. The women are given short thrift too (Monica Belucci is dropped into a couple of scenes merely to bed Bond and give him the info required to move to the next glamourous location) and a weasel-like government agent intent on bringing Orwell's 1984 to life feels a little like an afterthought (casting Andrew Scott - a man most familiar to audiences as Moriarty in Sherlock - may aid the loss of any suspense with his character). Yet once again, Craig shows just how astute the producers were when they cast him as Britain's last line of defence. And the film is almost stolen from under him by Christophe Waltz's nefarious overlord, managing to keep inevitability at bay (particularly when it comes to his infamous identity).  Mix in the dream team of Fiennes, Whishaw and Harris as the MI6 stalwarts in London and you have another exciting adventure in SPECTRE.

Oh, and Sam Smith's ballad is one of the strongest Bond songs in years... I don't care what anyone else says!